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Social Listening Guide: What is "social listening"? A thorough explanation from methods to successful case studies.


Last Update: April 26, 2023

With the recent ability for anyone to share information on social networking services (SNS), many companies adopt the method of social listening to gather real consumer feedback.

Social listening is the process of collecting and analyzing SNS and bulletin board posts about a company's products or services in order to use them for business purposes.

This article introduces the definition, methods, and successful case studies of social listening.

If you want to learn how to use social listening to help your business with things like product development or finding possible risks, please read this article.

What is Social Listening?


Social listening is a method of collecting and analyzing information posted on social networking sites and bulletin boards for business purposes.

It enables the collection and analysis of all types of posts based on selected keywords and is useful in the following ways:

  • Improvement of products and services

  • Measuring the results of promotions

  • Identifying potential risks

  • Understanding consumer and industry trends

Social listening has been gaining attention since smartphones and SNSs have become widespread and established for information gathering and communication.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, more than 68.5% of respondents use SNS, and the younger the age, the stronger the trend, with 75.5% of those aged 20–29. (1)

In the past, the most common method of listening to consumers' opinions was through surveys.

In surveys, it is difficult to give honest opinions because of concerns about the reaction of the company, and the information obtained tends to be limited because of the question-and-answer format.

Social listening has the advantage of listening to consumers' honest opinions without the filters and restrictions of surveys.

Social Listening Method

Social listening is generally conducted in the following steps.

  1. Clarify objectives
  2. Select the media to be surveyed
  3. Select keywords 4, Collect and analyze data
  4. Utilize the data for the next corporate activities

I will explain one by one.

1. Clarify the purpose

Clearly determine the purpose of social listening: "What is the purpose of social listening?

For example, you may want to "find out the response to a new product or campaign" or "find out the brand image".

2. Select the media to be surveyed

Research on which SNS, bulletin boards, and word-of-mouth sites will be targeted for social listening.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • LINE
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • 5Channel
  • Yahoo! Chiebukuro
  • Tell us about it on goo
  • Blogs

Because each medium has a different audience and different methods of communication, the information you can get from social listening will differ.

Before making a decision, check whether the information you want is posted on the media, whether the postings are reliable, and whether you can obtain timely information.

3. Select keywords

Try out a few keywords that you think will give you the information you want in each medium.

Examples of possible keywords are as follows

  • Product or service name
  • Company name
  • Name of the industry as a whole
  • Competitor's name

Combining main keywords with sub-keywords will provide more accurate information.

For example, if you want to know opinions about the customer support response for a certain service, consider including "service name" + sub keywords such as "support," "contact person," and "response.

4. Collect and analyze data

Collect data based on the selected keywords.

While it is possible to manually type in keywords and search in each media, paid tools can be used to collect data with simple operations and enable in-depth analysis.

The collected data will be analyzed from the following three perspectives

  1. Numerical analysis
  2. Postings and account analysis
  3. Segment analysis

Numerical analysis checks the number of posts and the number of reach/impressions.

Depending on the content of a post, the number of "positive," "negative," and "neutral" can be calculated to learn more about what people think.

In post and account analysis, frequently appearing keywords in posts are extracted, and influential accounts are identified and analyzed for trends.

Segment analysis able to further categorizes the information obtained from the numerical and post/account analysis.

It is a good idea to categorize by the level of interest in the contributor's product or service and the source of information that triggered the post.

5. Utilize the information for the next corporate activities

The information obtained from the analysis will be utilized in various aspects of corporate activities, such as development and improvement of products and services, promotion methods, and customer service.

Social Listening Success Stories

Here are two examples of companies that have implemented social listening and achieved sales growth or improved their corporate image.

Kagome Corporation

Kagome Corporation has been practicing social listening since 2014. They incorporate recipes that are trending on social media into their negotiation materials and reflect them in their stores, contributing to increased sales.

Furthermore, Kagome Corporation had a previous initiative where they sent thank-you letters and their own products as gifts to students who were not selected in the initial screening for new graduates.

In 2018, a marketing staff member who was conducting social listening suddenly noticed that this initiative had become a hot topic on social media. They informed the person in charge of the gift-giving project, which led to the decision to continue the initiative.

Loft Corporation and Hands Corporation

Loft Corporation and Hands Corporation garnered attention through quick responses to consumer needs identified through social listening. One notable example is the sale of "Green Notes."

On June 9, 2019, a student with visual hypersensitivity tweeted about the difficulty of obtaining a specific type of green paper notebook that they used and relied on. Loft Corporation and Hands Corporation responded to the tweet on Twitter.

Loft Corporation tweeted on June 10 that they would start selling the notebooks on their online store and subsequently in physical stores nationwide from June 18.

Hands Corporation also decided to sell the notebooks in all their physical stores on June 13.

These tweets received around 6,000 and 16,000 likes, respectively, and both companies received positive comments.

By addressing consumer issues raised on social media promptly, Loft Corporation and Hands Corporation successfully improved their corporate image.


Social listening is a marketing technique that involves collecting and analyzing posts and conversations on social media platforms to leverage for corporate activities.

Unlike traditional surveys, it allows companies to capture the authentic voices of consumers and stay updated on real-time industry trends.

It is important to note that social listening is not an instant solution and requires a long-term commitment with clear objectives.

The information obtained through social listening can provide insights for new product ideas and more effective promotional methods that resonate with consumers.

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